Hudson's Favorite Archive Releases of 2017

Yes, it's that time of year again. I've spent the last few days tearing my hair out trying to figure out my favorite records of 2017. Today I'm posting my favorite archive releases of the year, while next week I'll unveil my 40 favorite releases of new music.

For the sake of clarification, let's review my definition of an archive release. I know that many people throw everything into one big list, but that's not really fair to current records. Few new records can truly compete with reissues of classic albums.

Anything featuring previously-released tracks is an archive release. Compilations, reissues, box sets, and live records obviously fit into this category. If a live record contains nothing but new tunes then it can find a place on the new release list.

I also adhere to a one artist/one entry rule. Artists that have multiple releases from the vaults are combined into one place on my list. This rule came into play quite a bit this year, as Lydia Loveless, Wilco, Alex Chilton, and The Ramones are just a few of the acts to put out more than one record this year. (This will also come into play next week as Guided By Voices dropped two great records of new material.)

So here's the list. To check out tracks from these records, this week's Live Ledge is a countdown of this list. This show can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn, and almost every other podcast sites. Or click here to download it!

1. The Replacements, For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986. Nobody is shocked that this record tops my list, but it actually exceeds any expectations I had for it. Recorded by a mobile recording studio shortly before guitarist Bob Stinson was fired, this is the perfect representation of everything great about them as almost every song balances on that tiny razor’s edge between tight and sloppy. It feels like the show can derail at any moment, particularly when they attempt a half-assed run through a “Fox On the Run” cover. Instead of falling apart, they regroup with a ferocious version of “Hold My Life” and don’t let up through another two dozen songs.

2. Husker Du, Savage Young Du. There’s long been a need for some sort of compilation of Minneapolis’ other legendary punk band, and this set was worth the wait. 69 songs (47 of them previously unreleased) from the first two years of the band. Hopefully, something can be worked out with SST for future boxes of their 1983-1985 peak.

3. Lydia Loveless, Boy Crazy and Singles/Live From the Documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless? Two fabulous releases that came out within weeks of each other. Boy Crazy compiles all of Lydia’s early singles, which include fabulous covers of Elvis Costello, Prince, and Kesha. Live From the Documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless? Is a limited edition Record Store Day release of six live tracks from the best documentary of the year. It’s oh so good, and a great representation of Lydia and her amazing band.

4. Various Artists, Gary Crowley’s Punk and New Wave. While I’m not familiar with the British DJ, Gary  Crowley has fabulous taste. And what a lucky man! I would love to be given the opportunity to compile a special release of my own favorite tracks. This three disc set includes 77 of his favorite punk and new wave tunes from 1977-1982, but avoids the usual heavy hitters that are on almost all of these sorts of releases. Instead, the vast majority are lesser known tracks from this fertile period, and many have never seen a proper release.

5. The Ramones, Leave Home/Rocket to Russia. Although one would think Sire has exhausted the Ramones archives, these 40th anniversary boxes are chock full of previously unreleased demos, rough mixes, and live tracks.

6. Bash & Pop, Friday Night Is Killing Me. I’ve long stated that the first Bash and Pop album is the best post-Replacements release. Yes, it’s better (or as good) as anything Paul Westerberg has put out in the last 25 years. The new reissue features a second disc of B-sides, demos and alternate mixes.  

7. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. While this is quite possibly the most influential album of all time, it’s not the best Beatles album. In fact, one could argue that this record is the worst thing to happen to rock and roll, as it led to so many pretentious concept records. But Apple has always been somewhat stingy with unreleased material, so it’s a joy to hear these early versions of each and every song. There’s also a new stereo mix that is punchier than the rushed version we’ve lived with for the last 50 years.

8. Dion, Kickin’ Child: Lost Album 1965. The story goes that greatly inspired by Bob Dylan, Dion wished to move away from the doo-wop that made him famous. His record label wasn’t so thrilled with this new direction, so outside of a single or two the recordings for his Dylanesque project never saw the light of day...until now.

9. Bob Dylan, Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 13. Speaking of Dylan, the Bootleg series of archive releases has helped rehabilitate some of what are considered his lesser moments. Take the much maligned Self Portrait time period which now doesn’t seem as awful with 2013’s Another Self Portrait box set. This year’s box attempts to do the same with his controversial Jesus years. It’s not entirely successful, but he had such a great band during that time that helped lessen the impact of the almost insufferable dogmatic lyrics.

10. The Jam, 1977. What a fantastic year for the most underrated of the initial wave of British punk. This box compiles the two records released that year (In the City, This Is the Modern World) along with outtakes, Peel Sessions, and a blistering concert.

11. Neil Young, Hitchhiker. It’s well known that Young has a number of full-length albums that have yet to see the light of day. Thankfully, one of the best of these came out this year. Hitchhiker is an acoustic record that was recorded in a single 1976 evening, and featured a number of songs that were later reworked for other records.

12. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Live From Welcome to 1979. Another great Record Store Day release. Isbell and has been recorded these six tracks directly to a vinyl acetate.

13. Rolling Stones, On Air. Long bootlegged, the Stones have finally put out their own BBC sessions compilation. Featuring a number of songs they never recorded for their own records, these tracks come from the peak of the Brian Jones era.

14. Wilco, A.M./Being There. The first, and arguably best, two Wilco albums now packaged with outtakes and live tracks.  

15. Jeff Tweedy, Together At Last. Besides the Wilco reissues, leader Jeff Tweedy also released this record of acoustic versions of not only Wilco tunes but songs he recorded with the Golden Smog and Loose Fur side projects.

16. R.E.M., Automatic For the People. Arguably R.E.M.’s greatest album gets the box set treatment with a ton of demos and the only live appearance from that time period.

17. Chris Bell, I Am the Cosmos. Easily the best post-Big Star release by anybody from the band sees a remastering accompanied by a ton of outtakes.

18. Alex Chilton, A Man Called Destruction/Take Me Home and Make Me Like It. Two fantastic releases shows different sides of the former Big Star co-leader. A Man Called Destruction is...well, professional. “Take Me Home and Make Me Like It features rehearsals and outtakes from his more chaotic late-70’s period. For some reason I prefer the drunken antics of Take Me Home.

19. Various Artists, Manchester North of England: A Story of Independent Music. Was Manchester the post-punk version of Liverpool? This seven-disc set seems to say yes, as it navigates from the early days of Joy Division to the “Madchester” era before concluding with the beginning of Britpop.

20. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead. The Smiths are another band that has historically been stingy with unreleased material. This box set is the first expanded reissue, and it’s natural to begin with what most people consider their greatest album.


Scott said…
I know you guys like a tracklisting of these shows, so here it is:

1. The Smiths, Bigmouth Strikes Again (Demo) (from The Queen Is Dead (Deluxe Edition))
2. Slaughter & The Dogs, Cranked Up Really High (from Manchester North Of England A Story Of Independent Music)
3. The Salford Jets, Manchester Boys (from Manchester North Of England A Story Of Independent Music)
4. Alex Chilton, Take Me Home (Alt Version) (from Take Me Home and Make Me Like It)
5. Alex Chilton, Devil Girl (Double-Track Vocal) (from A Man Called Destruction)
6. Chris Bell, I Am The Cosmos (Extended Alternate Version) (from I Am The Cosmos)
7. R.E.M., Funtime (Live) (from Automatic For The People (25th Anniversary Edition))
8. Jeff Tweedy, Via Chicago (from Together At Last)
9. Wilco, Hesitation Rocks (from A.M. (Special Edition))
10. Wilco, Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind (Alternate) (from Being There (Deluxe Edition))
11. The Rolling Stones, Route 66 (from On Air (Deluxe Edition))
12. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Sway (from Live From Welcome to 1979(
13. Neil Young, Powderfinger (from Hitchhiker)
14. The Jam, All Around The World (John Peel Session) (from 1977)
15. The Jam, In The City (Demo) (from 1977)
16. Bob Dylan, The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar (Live Nov. 13, 1980) (from Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 13)
17. Dion, Kickin' Child (from Kickin Child: Lost Album 1965)
18. The Beatles, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Take 1) (from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
19. Bash & Pop, Friday Night (Is Killing Me) (Alternate Version) (from Friday Night Is Killing Me)
20. Ramones, Rockaway Beach (Power Station Rough) (from Rocket To Russia (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition))
21. Ramones, You're Gonna Kill That Girl (Sundragon Rough Mixes) (from Leave Home (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition))
22. Fast Cars, The Kids Just Wanna Dance (from GARY CROWLEY'S PUNK AND NEW WAVE)
23. Starjets, Schooldays (from GARY CROWLEY'S PUNK AND NEW WAVE)
24. The Letters, Nobody Loves Me (from GARY CROWLEY'S PUNK AND NEW WAVE)
25. Lydia Loveless, Boy Crazy (from Boy Crazy and Single(s))
26. Lydia Loveless, Desire (from Live From the Documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless?)
27. Husker Du, Statues (from Savage Young Du)
28. Husker Du, Diane (from Savage Young Du)
29. The Replacements, Bastards of Young (from For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986
30. The Replacements, Can't Hardly Wait (from For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986
31. The Replacements, Take Me Down to the Hospital (from For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986)

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